Bankers Systems Inc. has forged an alliance with Fiserv Inc. to package its Windows-based loan-document software with Fiserv's automated loan processing system.

It is Bankers Systems' second such accord with a major bank data processing firm. Last fall, the St. Cloud, Minn., provider of loan compliance applications allied with Fiserv rival Alltel Information Systems of Little Rock.

The Alltel alliance, which includes the participation of three other software firms, also aims to build a fully automated loan origination system for banks.

Data processing entities like Fiserv and Alltel are increasingly agreeing to package their systems with those of specialized software firms as an alternative to developing highly specialized software on their own.

"In the past, we would have either built our own software or bought the firm that made it," said Donald F. Dillon, Fiserv vice chairman and president of Information Technologies Inc. in Lincoln, Neb., which developed the loan automation system before being bought by Brookfield, Wis.-based Fiserv in 1995.

"But we realize we have enough on our plate," Mr. Dillon said. "We've all grown up a little."

Consultants added that the agreements help processing organizations respond more quickly to bankers' demands for "complete" systems.

"Banks don't want to wait until the vendors develop products that interface with other applications," said Steven P. Williams, consultant at M One in Phoenix. "So the vendors are developing these client/server systems through alliances that give bankers interfaced products more quickly."

The agreement with Fiserv opens a broader market in banks for Bankers Systems' new Windows-based document preparation software, dubbed Rembrandt.

That application is a revised version of Bankers Systems' DOS-based loan-document software, known as Loan Processor Plus, that has been installed in 5,000 institutions, said Hal Andrews, vice president of strategic business development for Bankers Systems.

Fiserv will offer Rembrandt as the "product of choice" to banks that use its client/server-based loan origination and accounting systems, Mr. Dillon said.

"The product ties into where we are going," said Mr. Dillon, who added that banks are clamoring for Windows-based applications. The alliance is not exclusive, however. Fiserv will offer other loan documentation packages at a bank's request, he said.

Consultants say such agreements will be essential to the success of small software firms in getting their products installed in bank back offices.

"This market is starting to resemble what happened in Silicon Valley," said Mr. Williams from M One. "All the companies work together, even though they compete with one another. It can only be good for banks."

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